Observations from my mat: I was re-reading parts of Cyndi Lee’s Yoga Body, Buddha Mind last week and came across a passage about finding the middle path with our practice - not too tight, not too loose.This idea of not too tight and not too loose is a simple and yet a deeply experiential expression of Sthira Sukham Asanam from the Yoga Sutras – a teaching that reminds us that every pose should be both steady and easeful; every pose should be created with equal parts effort or engagement and ease or softness.
Looking at it however from the not-too-tight, not-too-loose point of view allowed me to feel it differently. I could feel more acutely when I was gripping my body or judging myself (too tight) or just letting myself hang out – be it physically or drifting off mentally – not being fully present (too loose). Cool practice, right?
That theme became a focus in my classes as we worked to strengthen our all-too-often over-stretched hips .As I lived with this practice on my mat, like I always do, I tried to find meaning and ways that it could relate in my daily life. And as always, when I least expected it, the teaching revealed itself to me.
In fact, this one smacked me hard during a stand-off with my 6 year-old who was refusing to stop playing and get ready for bed: each of us digging in our heels, tempers flaring, no one budging. If I had been more aware, less tired, more present with myself, I would have seen the teaching I’d been exploring all week on my mat playing out in front of me. It was only later when Maddie Rose was asleep that I saw my missed opportunity to practice and live my yoga.
I am, in general, “tight” in my parenting – some might say “strict”. I’m also “tight” in my beliefs – some may say I have strong convictions. And that’s fine. But if I’m honest with myself, my job is, rather than to just accept that, to question and explore:
What am I afraid “loosening” a little might do? Am I afraid that I will become a pushover; not be taken seriously; or be seen as wishy-washy or not in charge or capable; feel disconnected from myself and my beliefs (AKA “too loose”)?
Somewhere in there is a middle ground to be found. I will admit that I glimpse that middle ground every now and then, and when I do, it feels good – I feel both in control and flexible.
To go back to my scenario with Maddie Rose -– it could have played out with me not digging in my heels, but rather hearing her out and finding a way for both of us to get our needs met. And in terms of other situations in my life where I know I get “too tight”, I can work on listening a little more to others, holding a space open within me to receive their point of view without throwing mine completely out the window.
This practice of finding the middle path is something that I know I will always need to work on. But that’s kind of like our asana, or any kind of practice that we value - there’s a never a point where we stop exploring and learning and growing….
What are the moments that challenge you most to find the middle path? Share with us in our Facebook groups - we'd love for you to join in on the conversation!
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